According to the National Assessment of Education and Progress (NAEP), low-income African American student performance on standardized tests was so poor that a Black and White achievement gap was created. After over three decades, educators are still puzzled by the persistence of the poor performance in both low and high socio-economic status (SES) groups (Carter, 2004).
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the reading achievement of low-income, African American students is associated with specific reading methodologies and administrative practices.
The researcher used a survey, developed by the research, to gather data on strategies used by elementary educators to successfully teach the target population. The surveys included information on teachers' level of knowledge, years of teaching experience, frequency of use of selected strategies, and teachers' perception of the frequency of the enforcement of administrative policies.
The One-Way Analysis of Variance was used, followed by the Scheffé Post Hoc Test when a significant difference was found. Eight hypotheses were tested at the .05 level or better.
Analysis of data revealed significant differences in the level of education as a function of the variable level of knowledge according to the use of specific methodologies and administrative practices. Furthermore, elementary teachers' level of education produced a significant influence on the frequency of use of administrators' roles with respect to principal functioning as a strong leader, employing highly qualified teachers, ensuring having smaller classes, extending class time outside school hours and using assessment data to improve instruction.
In conclusion, the findings of this study send education a clear message that specific research-based teaching strategies used in reading, which include the employment of effective methodologies, the use of teachers of particular demographic backgrounds accompanied by certain winning administrative practices, must be a frequent presence in the reading instruction of low-income African American students. It is imperative that the principal, acting as a strong educational leader, monitor and ensure the utilization of specific resources, personnel and programs for both the training of staff and students in an effort to help bring about long, sought-after success among the group being studied.